Opinion

Sheridan Development a Threat to Small Business and Seniors

Trevor Wilson | The PHOENIX

On Feb. 21, a group of Rogers Park residents gathered at the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) for a press conference regarding Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the CHA’s recent announcement of a $1.2 million proposal to build a mixed-use development in the 6400 block of North Sheridan Road.

The “mixed-use” aspect of the proposal involves the construction of a Target store that would attach to the community space of the CHA-owned Caroline Hedger Apartments, as previously reported by The Phoenix.

The Caroline Hedger Apartments are a senior living space located on the corner of North Sheridan Road and Devon Avenue. The CHA describes the tenants of the Hedger Apartments as the most diverse group of residents in its portfolio.

The construction of the new development would require the current community space to be replaced, which many residents describe as their only breath of fresh air in the noisy city.

Bill Morton, president of the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce, has spoken out against the development, citing the importance of diversity to the neighborhood and the relatively large number of senior residents living in Rogers Park.

About 8.5 percent of Rogers Park residents are over the age of 65, according to 2014 census data, meaning that as the population ages, Rogers Park will need to consider its future needs for senior living facilities.

According to social media releases by the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce, Morton is attempting to collect 500 petition signatures against the proposal, which will make further progress for the development significantly more difficult.

This new development proposal demonstrates how much Rogers Park has grown and improved over the past several years to become an attractive neighborhood for people of all ages, backgrounds and income levels. But the development also presents a threat to the community.

For the senior residents at the Hedger Apartments, the construction of a Target immediately adjacent to their living space would pose a number of inconveniences and declines in quality of life, such as construction noise, increased traffic, rent hike and difficulty accessing their homes during construction.

Aside from these drawbacks, a Target in Rogers Park could prove detrimental to the local economy. More than 130 small, privately-owned businesses operate in Rogers Park, according to the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce. Many of these businesses offer goods or services that would have to compete against those of Target.

For instance, if a student that is living on campus at Loyola needs to buy a screwdriver, he or she will no longer feel compelled to walk to Clark-Devon Hardware if the same product is offered at Target, which would be six blocks closer to campus.

Additionally, the money spent at Target does not cycle back into the local economy. Instead, that money goes into a sales column on a spreadsheet at the corporation’s headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Considering this construction would take place on a government-owned property, Rogers Park residents would effectively be paying taxes that go almost directly to corporate interests.

Rogers Park derives strength from its diversity — 55,000 hardworking business owners and residents from all walks of life have come together over the past several years to cultivate a proud and thriving neighborhood that values its people over profits.

To continue this success, it’s important that our community’s voice be heard by the CHA and the Mayor’s Office.

For those wishing to help halt the development, the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce will be collecting petition signatures weekly at 7231 N. Sheridan Rd, as announced by the RCC via social media. RCC President Bill Morton will also meet at the 49th Ward Office later in March.